You can listen to this episode, or read the transcript.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 0:03
Hey everyone and welcome to sandwich generation squeeze real conversations to support the generation squeeze between caring for children and aging parents. I’m Dr. Dianne Kraaijvanger, a Licensed Psychologist.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 0:14
And I’m Cris Roskelley, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 0:17
We are supported by Freshly, a great meal delivery service that offers healthy gluten-free chef prepared meals delivered to your door. At the end of the episode, we’ll have a special promo for our Squeezers so be sure to listen to the end.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 0:30
Alrighty, so today, we are very excited to talk about a subject that is near and dear to both of our hearts, the Highly Sensitive Person. We’re going to talk about how the Highly Sensitive Person can approach the Sandwich Generation Squeeze in some various ways to help ease the squeeze. So the term “Highly Sensitive Person” for anybody who doesn’t know was coined by the clinical and research psychologist Dr. Elaine Aaron, back in 1996. Her book called “The Highly Sensitive Person” was groundbreaking to me. It kind of put a name to what it’s like to be an HSP and what an HSP experiences. Before we kind of dive in, I just want to say that the term Highly Sensitive Person can feel a little charged because the word ‘sensitive’ is used often in pejorative ways. And so I kind of like to think of it as a Highly Perceptive Person.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 1:35
I really like that. And just like everything else with our podcast, people are going to hear two different views. And when we were talking about doing this podcast on the HSP, you had brought it up and I was like, “Well, what is an HSP?” And you said, “The Highly Sensitive Person, you know, Dr. Aaron’s book.” I said, “No, I’ve never heard of it.” Which you know, as a psychologist, maybe that’s a little shameful to admit, maybe I should have heard about it a long time before this. But for me, after reading the book, there was so much that I could relate to. And 100% like you just said, it’d be so nice to take the label away and just bring out the person, the person inside.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 2:21
What makes somebody a highly sensitive person isn’t a negative term, which I think sometimes society has labeled people who are more sensitive, as, you know, “Oh you’re too sensitive” or “You’re too shy, or you’re wimpy” or whatever it might be. And that is not the case. I think how Dr. Aron meant it in more of a sensory way that an HSP notices everything and processes things deeply and feels emotions deeply. Their senses are heightened.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 3:05
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And one part of you know, if you go to her website or you read her book, one of the really cool things is the self-test questions that she has in the book. When I was reading the self-test, it was amazing that I was like, True, true, true, true.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 3:39
Yeh it was really funny when we decided on this topic. You said something like, “Oh, I’m definitely not a highly sensitive person.” And I said, “Hmmm ok. I’m definitely a highly sensitive person.” Then you read the book preparing for the show and said “Hey, guess what, I’m an HSP.”
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 4:00
Exactly I even asked my husband “Am I a sensitive person?” And he literally looked at me, he said, “You’re kidding me, right?” Okay, I guess I am.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 4:16
We’re going to include in the show notes a link to Dr. Aron’s quizzes so you can see whether you’re an HSP or whether your child’s an HSP. But it might be kind of fun to go through the quiz here and just kind of talk about our own answers. I think we were saying that I got 21 out of 23. So a couple of them didn’t fit. And what was yours?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 4:45
I thought I had a 21 out of 23 until you and I were going over our podcast and I realized that I actually have a 22 out of 23. So there we go. There was only one that didn’t resonate with me. So we’re slam dunk HSPs.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 5:00
So this is the the quiz for the grownups. I mean, the adults. First question, “I’m easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.” That is definitely true for me. I am very aware of bright lights or if there is, you know, a smell nearby. I can’t stop commenting on it or, you know, a draft in a restaurant. I’m bothered by it throughout the meal.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 5:31
Yeah, absolutely. It is something that my family comments on all the time. And absolutely the nearby environment. My husband will say “I can’t take you out to dinner. And it’s never just the two of us. It’s the entire restaurant that we’re eating with. Because I’m say, “Oh, do you see that couple over there? They’re talking about this and oh, that family’s having some difficulty. They’re talking about this or that.”
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 5:56
Yes, yes. And to walk into a room, and you just can kind of get the pulse. People don’t have to say much, you just kind of can walk in and you can kind of sense what’s going on. We were talking earlier about the difference between being hyper vigilant and being really aware of the temperature of a room and, and, you know, I don’t do it consciously but, at all times, I realize I am scanning and taking the temperature of people. I can immediately discern their facial expressions or a change in tone of voice and am aware of their mood or how they’re feeling. When it comes to HSPs, that’s a wonderful trait. It’s a real skill to be that intuitive. Intuition is at the base of sensitivity for many but not all HSPs. But it also can be really draining if you’re constantly getting that feedback.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 7:18
Absolutely. I remember when I was a kid growing up and my father, he tended to have some mood fluctuations. And I could literally tell by the way he would open the door, and his footsteps coming into the house, whether I would stay in the family room or hide in my bedroom. I would know right away if this is going to be a good evening or a not so good evening. I always credited him to my learning about people and to really be so sensitive to, you know, people’s expressions on their face and their tone in their voice and how they fluctuate and how loud they’re speaking or how they’re sitting.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 8:00
Yeh and that’s a question I have about being a Highly Sensitive Person. There is a bit of chicken and egg. Which came first. Did you become hypervigilant first? And that’s what increased your sensitivity to things? Or are you an inborn HSP? Hypervigilance can come along with that, but you know, when it comes to sandwich generation squeeze and kids, it’s good to know if your kids are HSP that they’re carrying that weight of constantly gauging what’s going on around them. That requires some awareness on the parents’ part of how to to help ease that for them.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 8:54
Exactly. And so much good comes out of it, too. When I talked about my dad, and when he was older, and we could kind of have this corrective emotional experience that I could sit down and and we could talk, certainly in the last years of his life. We had lots of one-on-ones since he was living with me. And he would say, he would always call me D. And he would say, “D, I’m so sorry. You know, I know I was hard when you were younger.” And I said to him, “You know what, Dad, you also made me the person I am in really being able to connect with people and have the most wonderful relationships because I am sensitive.” At least I hope I am, there are definitely times when I go wrong. Cris and I have many funny stories about that.
There’s so much beauty about being highly sensitive, especially in terms of connection and relationships. And Di, you’re very sensitive and very, very kind and aware of other people. I also think it’s amazing that you had that opportunity with your dad for that healing. A lot of people don’t get that. Just to get that validation from him as well. That’s amazing. How about the next self-test question. “Do other people’s moods affect you?” How’d you do on that one?
Well, my poor kids. Since becoming a parent, I think it is just like anything else, right? It kind of goes back to our boundary episode that we have, but it’s like, let’s not be so porous. Let’s try to have healthy boundaries. But I tell you, if my husband and one of the kids, they have an off mood, man, that will just sink right into me. And unless I am conscious, so in conscious being that I’m not running, you know, 1000 different ways, I can easily slide into the overload mode pretty quick.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 10:57
Yeah you just hit the nail on the head for me. When I first read this question, I was saying, “Yeah, no, I don’t think that fits for me.” And then I realized that when it comes to my child, like if my child is in a bad mood, it is so hard for me to not react to it. I find myself trying to improve her mood, to make her feel better and get things back on track. I try to fix fix fix versus what I always try to remind myself to just let her have her mood, I don’t need to fix it. I want her to learn how to be comfortable with her feelings and have a range of experience and to trust that they’re finite. And for me to take care of myself, like you said back to boundaries that just because somebody else is in a bad mood, it doesn’t need to shake mine. I can still have a good day even if she has a bad day.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 11:56
Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, and another thing that is really interesting… Do you need to withdraw during busy days so you can get some relief? I think you and I were talking about that the other day when I was saying that between my practice and teaching and SGS (and we call it SGS for Sandwich Generation Squeeze, so you might hear us ay SGS)… but I literally texted you and said, “I have to go to my room. I need to lock myself in the room for 10 minutes” because I just needed to get away. There was so much coming in that I I knew that if I didn’t, I would just snap at somebody and that wouldn’t be healthy. And I’m not always that good at reading myself. Sometimes I do snap just to let you know.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 12:39
Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, I do. Usually it’s feedback I’m getting from others that makes me realize I need a little quiet time. And this also brings up the topic of introversion. An introvert is defined as somebody who kind of re-energizes and gets their energy from being alone, whereas an extrovert gets their energy by feeding off other people’s energy and being around others. So a lot of people think HSPs are inevitably introverts if they need time to be alone. And interestingly, that’s not always true. I think Dr. Aron said that 30% of HSPs are not introverts. For me, I’m not an extreme introvert. At least according to Meyers Briggs, I’m an INFJ.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 13:42
I love you that just threw that in there.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 13:44
I love Meyers Briggs, and it really is so interesting to me how most HSPs are in the NF type. There is ENFP, INFJ, INFP, ENFJ of the 16 types of Meyers Briggs. And again, that NF is about being highly intuitive, which is true for most HSPs but not all. And so, for me, definitely, I need that break. I need to say just don’t talk to me, don’t stimulate me. I need to come down. And then I’m good to go. And if you don’t give me that time, it is not pretty.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 14:34
Yes. Right. Exactly. Exactly. I definitely need the break. When I was reading Dr. Aron’s work, she said 70% of HSPs are introvert, 30% extroverts. I was also having a conversation with a friend, and we were talking about that and she’s like, you know, you’re such an extrovert and I said, “That’s so funny, because I’m actually not. Like when I’m comfortable and I’m with you know, people that I know, well, then yes, I’m chatty Cathy, and I’m laughing, and I’m having a great time. If you put me in a big room with people, I will absolutely be the observer. And that’s one of the things that Dr. Aron talks about is that oftentimes HSPs want to just kind of scope out the environment they want to observe, they want to see what’s going on. Because of all the everything, you know, the stimulation and everything else. Everything coming at them.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 15:26
Yes. Yeah, that’s so true. And you’re right, you do come off as an extrovert. You’re so bubbly and fun and engaged, but I think the key there is that then you need that restoration time.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 15:40
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 15:42
And another self-test question that actually does not match for me is that do not tend to be very sensitive to pain. I actually have a very high tolerance to pain. My dentist is always amazed that I get all fillings, I’ve had way too many fillings, drilled without novocaine or anything. I remember one time, my dentist was like, “I don’t know how you’re doing this. This is a really deep cavity” and he looks at me and I’m sheet-white, gripping the arms with sweat pouring down my face. He said “do you want some novocaine?” I said “No, I’m fine. I’m good, just get ‘er done.” He kept remarking that there is no way others could have gone through that. So I don’t think I fit that one.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 16:31
So for me, I have zero pain tolerance which is something for having three kids with zero pain tolerance. Matter of fact, I remember senior year in high school, my sister had just gotten back from college and I was so excited to see her. I ran out of our front door across the lawn. I had no shoes on to give her a big hug. I love my sister and my brother, so of course, I ran and a bee stung my foot. Well, it was prom night. I literally dropped to the ground. I mean the drama that went on. I dropped to the ground, my brother came out, he had to take it out with tweezers, and you would have thought that I had something amputated.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 17:19
This is hilarious to me as, sidenote, you’re also a former Stanford nurse and yet you freak out over a bee stick.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 17:29
Exactly! Over a bee sting. So that’s always a running joke in my family. If you ever asked anybody no, I cannot, I cannot do pain.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 17:36
That’s hilarious. “Are you sensitive to caffeine” next question. So I’m particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine. I actually have never tried coffee.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 17:45
I cannot believe you’ve never tried coffee.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 17:47
I know! I have never tried it because I am so sensitive to hot chocolate which I know does not hold a candle to coffee. It’s a running joke. When I’m I’m tired, I’m going to go get buzzed up on a cup of hot cocoa.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 18:01
Similar to this whole wonderful topic of HSP that I didn’t know I even fit in, the same goes under the topic of caffeine for me. I haven’t had any coffee in four years. But before that I was a 10 cup-a-day coffee drinker. And I, my gosh, I didn’t think it had any effect on me. But as you can imagine, I have a lot of energy, but then you put 10 cups of coffee on that energy. And, you know, I thought that I could, you know, just do everything until I landed in the hospital and they hooked up my heart. I think my resting heart rate was in the 140s. And they asled, “Do you drink coffee?” And I’m like “Yep, yep, I drink coffee.” They said “No, no, no, no, you must not” and so, just like anything in my life, I heard you should cut back so I stopped cold turkey and went into DTS for two weeks on caffeine-withdrawal because I went from so much to nothing. So yes, I’m sensitive to caffeine.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 19:10
Well, you don’t do anything lightly. You’re gonna knock it out of the park.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 19:18
(Laughing) You bet.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 19:18
And how about the question “Do you have a rich, complex inner life?” on the quiz. What do you think about that one?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 19:24
I love that one. Because there are times when I zone out. And if you you know, read the book, she kind of talks about that, especially one of the case studies, but I absolutely will zone out. It’s very common for me, and I will just go into my own little world, whatever that might be. Whether it’s some kind of fantasy thinking or and it’s not that to do list that’s a whole different type of zoning out. This is really zoning out in a way that is relaxing and almost like yeah, a fantasy get away. Love my inner worlds. It’s a great inner world.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 20:00
When I first read this question, I was thinking, no, I’m not sure that fits. And then I was remembering how I love spending time by myself, which at this point in life is a very distant memory. But I have always, I’m so happy to spend an entire day alone. And even if I have done or accomplished nothing, I feel very content and like I’ve achieved something at the end of the day. And I realize it’s because I’ve had a whole world going on up here, where I have been working stuff out. It’s like a rich tapestry of life going on up there. Even if I’m just sitting on the sofa.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 20:48
Right, exactly. It’s wonderful. And I’m definitely uncomfortable by loud noises. That one is definitely huge.
Cris Roskelley 20:57
Yeah, my nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 21:03
Yeah, that’s similar to what we were talking about with the whole overstimulation to that you can really feel, at least I can. I can feel it in almost in my skin, like underneath my skin. It’s almost as if there’s just this nervousness there. And once I kind of give myself a break, I completely calm down and then I come back and, you know, ready to go again.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 21:28
Totally. For SGS, I think this is a really big thing of learning to set boundaries. My kid now definitely knows the phrase, “Mama needs quiet time” when I have reached overstimulation mode. It’s like “Warning, Will Rogers, beep beep beep.” Then I reset and then it’s okay.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 21:53
But I think that’s wonderful that you are so aware of this personality trait much more than me. I sometimes will put myself in situations where there’s just so much overstimulation and then it that doesn’t work out well. So I didn’t have that cue to say, “Hey, you know what, I think I need a break.” Matter of fact, I would just say I need to do more and more and more and more until obviously, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I couldn’t do any more.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 22:28
Alrighty, it’s time for our halftime show. Again, we’re going to answer an audience question. So here we go. “Paul asked us, my in laws are getting older and my wife wants to have them move into the house with us. I’m not sure I want this. It’s going to affect how we raise our kids and how we interact with each other. How do I discuss this with my wife without her getting mad at me?”
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 22:49
So this is a great question, Paul, and a big one, one that Cris and I might dedicate a whole podcast to. So thank you for bringing this up and to try to answer this question as succinctly as we can. There are some practical things that you and your wife need to think of as well as some relational aspects of this question that are really important. So first off, the practical. Do you have the space to accommodate your parents? Are they mobile? That’s a big one. If not, is your home set up to accommodate this? Because obviously, whether it is wheelchairs or walkers, that’s an important aspect of how your home is set up. Will they have to navigate stairs? And if so, is this going to be a problem? So in other words, if you have a bathroom, but it’s upstairs and they have a walker, or they’re in a wheelchair, how would they access that? So just think practical solutions. Do they have helpers that will be coming in and out of the house? Another one that’s important, especially if you have kids, what does that look like with people constantly kind of coming in and out of the house.? These are just some of the things that you and your wife want to talk about before the move happens. And Cris and I want to emphasize it is before the move happens because, especially in my practice and in my own life, having my parents move in with us… these are some of the things I didn’t quite think out beforehand, which might seem funny. I didn’t think about the bathroom access, I didn’t think about mobility, I didn’t think about how many people would be in and out of our house. Another big one is the financial discussions that you and your wife will have to talk about, again, a whole other podcast that Cris and I will be doing about the financial impacts. But this is an important part of the discussion. Who pays for what?
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 24:30
Yeah, and in terms of the relational aspects, you really want to think about what is your relationship like now with your in-laws? And what are your wife and your kids’ relationships like with them? You mentioned that it’s going to affect how you raise the kids and how you and your wife will interact with each other. And that’s true, that’s really important to address. It will affect it. There will be both pros and cons in good and bad ways, I imagine, depending on how you answered the other questions. So it is important to remember that, depending on how independent your in-laws are, that will inform the level of caregiving that they’re going to need. If they’re self sufficient and independent, it could be a great move in terms of helping with the kids for you and your wife and could relieve some of your squeeze. But if they’re not, you and your wife will really need to discuss the more challenging aspects that the move could bring. Most importantly, when you approach this conversation with your wife, you want to make sure you do it in a time where neither of you are rushed. And just talk openly about the pros and cons. You’re not making a decision yet. You want to be as non-judgmental as possible and really hear what it means to each of you and lay out your concerns. And as always, if the conversation gets heated, you want to make sure to take a break and agree to another time where you will return to the subject. And just know that there’s going to be a lot of emotions behind this conversation. So, allow your wife to express her thoughts and feelings and make sure you get the time to do the same. This is not going to be a one-and-done conversation. You might need to take a breather and then get back to it.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 26:12
So we hope that helped, Paul. If anyone would like to submit a question for our halftime show or suggest a future topic, please just head on over to our website at sandwichgenerationsqueeze.com.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 26:30
Being a Highly Sensitive Person is such an important topic to educate ourselves and our kids on. If you’re an HSP but your kids not, you can model your needs so everybody learns how to modulate themselves. Because this is just an innate trait like being right-handed, something we have to learn how to function with. I startle easily which is another test question. Everybody knows this in my house, do not creep up on me. I will completely jump out of my skin and then I’m like, Oh my God, my heart palpitations. It totally throws me.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 27:18
Yeah, right, exactly. My college roommates used to like to scare as a joke. Now that I’m getting older, I think people realize not to do it because I might die of a heart attack right on the spot. And so they’re not willing to carry that guilt. But it used to be a running joke in college like is like how can we scare Dianne, like literally hide around things and jump out at me and my whole left side of my body would literally go numb.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 27:46
Yes and they’d think it was hysterical. So here’s one self-test question that I think is a point of divergence. I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows. There is a show on right now. I hope I don’t butcher the name. I think it’s called “All About Eve.” And another one I think is called “John” or “Dear John,” and they’re psychological thrillers. I love reading psychological thrillers, love them, gobble them up. I tend to read a book every two days, late at night, as my little quiet time. But in a movie or a TV show, I actually love those two shows I mentioned, but there are times that I have to gut check when I’m lying in bed. Can I handle this right now? Like, am I maxed out? Will this be too overstimulating? Will this be fun? And, once in a while. I’m watching those shows, and I think I’m super into it. And then I realize, this is not fun for me anymore. My heart is racing. I feel panicky, I don’t know what’s coming next. And I’m like, I can’t handle this and I have to turn it off. Then I go to my favorite, Gilmore Girls.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 29:00
Yes, and I am so drawn by how we are different in that way. And that’s probably the therapists in us, right? I’m so drawn by anything when it comes to a psychological thriller. And a good example is that I was just watching I think it is called “Gone in the Dark” by Michelle McNamara. And I just was fascinated.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 29:25
Oh yeh, is that the show about a serial killer?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 29:27
Yeh exactly. I could not get enough of this show. I literally could not sleep at night, so I would watch it and be so involved in it that I would go to bed and either have these horrific nightmares, or I couldn’t fall asleep. So I’m drawn to it. I don’t have that boundary to say “Dianne, hey, listen, maybe this is overstimulating or maybe don’t watch it right before you go to bed.” My family literally had an intervention because I’d be watching the one of these crime shows and then I would turn it off and be so paranoid I wouldn’t go out.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 30:26
(Laughing) That was going to be my question… Are you pleasant to be around after watching these?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 30:34
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 30:36
I’m curious because I so dislike the feeling of being scared because I can do that to myself all by myself. I don’t need anthing external to help with that. Sodo you like the feeling of being scared?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 30:49
I do. Haha, yes. Which I know is unhealthy. But I think it is that adrenaline rush that I find interesting. I think that I definitely am one of those seekers. I love change, and I love new things and just that adrenaline pumping in so I think that’s why I really like the shows.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 31:07
That’s interesting. And that’s why HSP is different for everybody. A lot of HSPs don’t like change. I actually do like change. But I personally have to then process the change. SO So I love change, but it takes a lot out of me.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 31:23
Yes. Yeah exactly. But I think you are right, it does. You know, on one hand it does exhaust me, but yet, I keep going back to it. So there’s something that’s a whole other podcast, right?
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 31:41
So we don’t need to go through all of these self-test questions. But how about being hangry? Being very hungry creates a strong reaction to me disrupting my concentration or mood. Do you get the hangries?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 31:49
Yes, absolutely. And I wonder though, is that an HSP thing because I know other people who experienced that as well and I probably wouldn’t categorize them as HSP. So I wonder if that is, you know, if it goes again to that internal world internal stimulation, what am I feeling? And there’s just more of a connection to that? Or is that is a more general thing.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 32:14
My take on it is that I think HSPs are more in touch with their bodies. So they have a more acute awareness of what’s going on internally. They’re aware of it, not that it stresses them out. But they’re aware of it. They’re aware that their blood sugar drops, and they’re more in tune to that. So it affects them more. And so I don’t think that means that anybody who gets hangry is an HSP. But I think that it’s one indicator among many that, if that happens a lot, it might be a sign that you react more to slight variations within your body.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 33:04
Yeah, exactly. It’s like your brain processes that information and reflects on it more deeply. And so it kind of goes hand in hand.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 33:13
Yep. Totally. My dad and I are both definitely hangry. I remember every time we would be on the ski lift, like when it was really windy and the ski lift stops, and you’re stuck up there in the cold waiting for them to turn it on. Our blood sugar would plummet, we’d be aware of the cold and wind, and we were miserable. He would say “You know what I love about skiing? We can have a snack” and he’d pull out some chocolate. It would just change the mood.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 33:45
Yes. That’s a great memory. I love that. And how about the last question. When I was a child, my parents or teachers seem to see me as sensitive or shy. You know, it was funny. We were talking about that. And I think at first I had said no and then when I actually really thought about childhood and the feedback my parents would get it was always that I was shy. Oh, she’s so shy. She’s shy. And now I think, Oh, that’s interesting. I think part of that was what I was talking about earlier, even now, I will not be the one who’s going to be the life of the party in a room full of strangers. And you know, I am going to be the observer. I’m going to be sitting there I’m going to be in one part of me really enjoys that to kind of take the pressure off as well to be the observer. And I don’t feel I guess maybe that it resonates too much that I’ll get overstimulated, but if there is a lot of people with heat, and sound and noise Yeah, that’s you’re probably not going to see Dianne in that room for too long.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 34:44
Totally. Totally. Yeah. I don’t think that I was ever thought to be shy. That one didn’t fit for me. I had the nicknames swivelhead and cackleshorts when I was younger because I was always yapping. As an adult, I have been told not that I am shy but that I can come across as aloof. I think that’s kind of a negative interpretation on being called shy. So maybe it’s kind of similar, but I kind of hang back and observe before diving in especially around people I don’t know.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 35:27
Absolutely. You know, and I think the fun thing about this self-test is that everyone is going to have different answers to it. And I know that Dr. Aron says it’s not a psychological test. Some of the things are going to hit, and some of the things won’t.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 35:52
Totally it’s just a tool to kind of see where you are on a gradation of sensitivity. And again you can take the quiz for yourself or your child and the link will be in the show notes. But, you know, something that I think is fascinating, is it goes to the fact that this sensitivity trait or, like I like to say being perceptive, is that it’s it’s innate. It’s just like being right-handed, it’s not something that can be controlled. And in fact, biologists have found this trait in over 100 species, from fruit flies, birds, fish to dogs, cats, horses and primates. So this trait actually reflects a positive survival strategy of being the observer and standing back and observing before acting.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 36:45
Absolutely, absolutely. You know, and also, I think, for people, our listeners too, is that you might become more easily overwhelmed and not to worry about that, you know, that is just one of those things. If you notice everything, you know, you’re naturally going to be more stimulated. When things get too intense or complex or chaotic how I was talking about, like, you know, there’s a certain level, that’s okay for me, but if it gets to a, to a higher more intensity, you know, then I’m not going to be able to sustain that for too long. And if that is how you feel, then it’s important to be aware of that and there’s nothing absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s just it’s good to know about yourself.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 37:23
Yes, and sensitivity can be valued differently in different cultures or environments. For example, in the corporate world, being sensitive or needing to process things on a different level might not be valued. Whereas if you are an artist or a healer or in the caring professions, which draws so many HSPs, sensitivity is such an important trait that leads to the success in those fields.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 37:57
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. And I think that one of the reasons that we wanted to talk about this, what you mentioned earlier to was the SGS impact. It’s important to kind of know where you fall, but also where people fall that you love that are around you. So whether it’s your kids or your parents, and then different ways to work with that.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 38:37
Totally. So let’s just take a few. If we’re dealing with your aging parents and you’re an HSP but parent is not, you want to think about how to approach that. Because chances are if you grew up as an HSP, with a parent who isn’t, there were some misses there. And there were times you felt misunderstood or possibly shamed or invalidated. You might not get that healing like you were lucky to get. If the older adult in your life has moved in with you, then you need to set up some internal boundaries to protect yourself. And, you know, for example, if your parent is starting to show signs of dementia, which can lead to personality changes, it can lead to hurtful situations. And so you want to set up rules and boundaries so you get that decompression time. And that limit that overstimulation. So set up some coping strategies from the get-go, like if this happens, set up with your partner, I’m going to be going on a walk, or I will need an hour at night or 15 minutes to sit in the bathroom and hide to decompress.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD 40:00
And if you’re not an HSP but your aging parent is, I think that’s important to know, as well like, to acknowledge that their sensitivity is an inherent trait, right? And it’s a gift. So even at times, even if it may feel intrusive, maybe they’ll notice things that you wish that they didn’t notice. Remember, they also they just need their space as much as you can try not to over stimulate them, allow them to kind of call their own timeouts. And don’t criticize them for being highly sensitive.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT 40:33
Totally, and moving on to kids. This is such an important opportunity if you as a parent are an HSP, and you’re recognizing signs that your child might also have that trait, that gives you an amazing chance to teach them about themselves. Give them Dr. Aron’s book, or read it aloud together, you can read it first depending on their age, and utilize the tools and tips she gives. She has The Highly Sensitive Person, The Highly Sensitive Child, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love. All of these fantastic books. You get to show your child the power of this trait and what gifts it gives and to combat those things they may be doubting in themselves of why they feel things more deeply or how to get past that. You can learn how to help enable them to protect themselves and to model for them how you handle being an HSP and navigate the world.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD
Absolutely. And if you yourself are an HSP but your child might not be, then that’s important. then talk about it. Clear communication. Just be honest with yourself, with your kids, with your parents, that you can become overstimulated and that you may need to kind of retreat or reset. It’s all about modeling that selfcare.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT
And if you’re listening to this and the quiz we went over doesn’t fit for you but you’re realizing might describe your child, then it’s time to educate yourself. Get Dr. Aron’s book, learn about this more so you can sit down with your child and teach them how to honor themselves.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD
Yes, especially in today’s world with Covid, how do we manage that in the different scenarios we were just talking about. Whether it’s ourselves who are the HSP, or our child or aging parent is the HSP, it’s about allowing that person the room to take time. If you are the person who needs that time, to communicate that especially in this time that feels so uncertain and overwhelming.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT
Dr. Aron, gosh I would love to get her on this podcast, she has a lovely blog article about Covid. We’ll put the link in the show notes. It’s about how all of us, HSP or not, are struggling with uncertainty right now. That concept of uncertainty and the unknown can be really challenging for HSPs, and how just to lean into it right now and accept that we have to go with the flow and the only thing that is known right now is change, and to be patient with yourself and the feelings of overwhelm that will come and go. What I loved that she said is that the solution to the changing natures of things is to define what is unchanging and stay with that. I do that and have done it for years which is why I’m an avid hiker. I find my calm in nature. I turn to nature and trees. Their permanence, they were here long before I came, will be here long after I go, that certainty gives me calm to weather the storm.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD
Absolutely, and that’s such a nice way to wrap up this podcast. There’re so many ways to thrive in this world whether you are an HSP or not. Being an HSP is such a gift, it allows you to be compassionate and so relational on a deep level, and to recognize your and others’ emotions. Self-care is so important for everyone that we talk about, managing their stress whether that’s exercising, sleeping, moving, or talking to a trusted friend or therapist. Just remember to take care of yourself. This was such a fun discussion today, Cris, I absolutely loved it.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT
I loved it. I could talk about this for many more episodes. Maybe we should do a follow-up.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD
Maybe we will, yeh.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT
Thank you everyone for listening. Cris: Thanks for listening to SGS. Please share us with your friends, and it would be great if you would rate and review the show which helps new listeners find us. If you’d like to submit a question for our halftime show or suggest a future topic, just head on over to our website at sandwichgenerationsqueeze.com. Be sure to tune in to next week’s topic… Navigating School Amidst Covid. Bye for now!